Oh, Joy, oh Rapture!

I am having the best time of my life.  Every now and then there are books that are absolute gifts from god.  Wonderful, involving, easy books to write, they just flow from my computer (or my pen if I'm writing long hand)  and I can't wait to get to work.  The pages/words pile up, my energy is phenomenal, my mood is sunny, all's right with the world and everything  is glorious.

You can't count on a  book to be this seamless, to be so in love with your characters, with every word coming right and insights coming almost by accident.  We call these "gift" books, and some people who aren't professional writers think all books have to be like this, or else they won't write.  They wait for that glorious inspiration to hit, and if it doesn't they go shopping (or drinking, or whatever their drug of choice is).

For the rest of us, for every gift book there are wonderful books that are plain hard work and discipline and books we adore, but they aren't the glorious, mountain-top experiences.

Mind you, what I feel about a book has nothing to do with what readers might end up deciding, and I try to be careful not to disparage a book that was misery to write.  The Harlequin book of mine that made the most money, has been reprinted and put in audio and won a RITA (I think) is FALLING ANGEL, and I had my first real bout of writers' block when I was writing it.  So I dislike the book, because it was so damned hard to write, and it's often people's favorite of mine.

Conversely, I'd been losing my mojo a bit, with STILL LAKE a painful effort (though I like it in retrospect), and then I wrote INTO THE FIRE.  That book caught fire, I wrote it in a white heat, I love every single word of it, and it's one of the most controversial books I've ever written.  People either love it or hate it -- it got one of my favorite reviews from PW, which said it was "troubling."  People read the hero's convoluted, denial-plagued thoughts as his real feelings, and they thought he was a total, brutal asshat.

I adore that book.  I listen to the audio on a regular basis.  But it did nothing for my career -- maybe even sunk it further into the mire.

However, most gift books push me ahead.  I'll list just a few of them -- THE DEMON COUNT, LORD SATAN'S BRIDE, TANGLED LIES, NIGHT OF THE PHANTOM, NIGHTFALL, BLACK ICE, TO LOVE A DARK LORD, RUTHLESS, ON THIN ICE ... in fact, almost all of the ICE books.  And those have been books that have mostly made a difference in my career.

So this one is completely glorious.  It's the first of THE COMMITTEE GOES TO AMERICA.  Yup, it's an ICE book where the Committee opens a branch in the US (probably in New Orleans -- I'm making this up as I go along).  We've got a delicious operative, we've got a furious woman, we've got killers and devious, venal branch of the Catholic church (the fabulous new pope would kick their butts).  We've got Montana and New Orleans and a vintage airstream camper and man, we even have Venice.  Damn, I love this book!

One thing that's interesting -- I'm listening to my soundtrack, which keeps growing by leaps and bounds.  I haven't written to music with lyrics (while I write, that is) for a long, long time.  (Maybe listening to J-rock doesn't count, since I don't understand squat in Japanese except gomenasai, aishitteru and sumimasen - two of those are I'm sorry and one is I love you).  Oh, and itadakimasu and arigato gozaimasu and screw the spellings, which are "eat up" and "thankyouverymuch")

Anyway, when I wrote NIGHTFALL, which I consider a mountain-top experience, I listened to Richard Thompson non-stop.  RT is the soundtrack for most of my romantic suspense novels -- pounding, intricate guitar, gorgeous howling vocals, lashing pain and deep wit.  I'm his slave for life.

The more I listen to my soundtrack the more energy goes into the work.  This book is so damned good it's writing itself.  I write, and things just show up and mesh in beautifully.  Even though I'm flat out with a thousand things (packing/fixing the house to sell, a juicy little part in "Carousel" that'll take a huge mount of time in July, grandchildren I want to fawn over, and reissues to rewrite, etc.)

But when the writing is going well then everything is going well.  And when the writing is this good then the world's a grand and glorious place.

I'm playing around with heat titles to differentiate from ice.  I was thinking the cover name of the US Committee might be Flame, Inc.  With something like "The Committee to Protect Against Firestorms" or something along that line but a little better.  I'm going with titles like SCORCHED and SCALDED, but the one word title won't work because they've been used and they're too easy to confuse (one problem with the Rohan books).

SCORCHED EARTH sounds too bleak, SCORCHED HEART too romance-y.  I'll have to play around with it some more.  Suggestions gratefully accepted.

Back to work.  Happy happy happy.

Back Again

All right, I'm covered in shame.  I still haven't gotten the stuff out for England, Australia and Canada.  I will do it today -- I promise.  They're packed up and addressed -- they just threw me when I needed to fill out custom slips and there was a line behind me.  I know, I'm impossibly wicked.

But the good news is today's Kindle Daily Deal in Romance is NEVER KISS A RAKE and NEVER TRUST A PIRATE!  Only $1.99 each.  Now most of you know about those books but it's lovely of Amazon to put them on sale and if you know anyone else who's interested pass it along.

I wanted to talk about Soundtracks.  I listen to one of two things when I write.  Either a DVD/audiotape/mp3 of something called HIGH FOCUS by Brain Sync (you can find it at Amazon) which basically sounds like white noise whoosh-whoosh but taps into gamma and delta and beta waves and all that sort of stuff.  None of which I understand or am interested in, I only know it works.

But I also listen to soundtracks.  One of the first I ever did was for AGAINST THE WIND, which obviously had Bob Seger's song, plus Lovers in a Dangerous Time by Bruce Cockburn (which probably fits every book) and some Stevie Nicks and others.  Back then you made mix tapes, and I'd sit and work on them.  My best mix tape was when I was going through infertility treatment, which trust me, is rough, and I had to drive 65 miles each way to the doctor.  I usually listened to doleful Celtic music and wept, so I decided to make a happy tape, starting with "Wouldn't it be Nice" by the Beach Boys and lots of other cheery stuff.  It kept me relatively sane during those seven years.  (Yup, seven years of treatment and trying, and then Kaim came arrived and two years later Tim.  God bless adoption).

But I digress.  So I'm working on a new book and this time it's soundtrack time.  And I've got a long one, ever growing.  Just for today, I'll give you the current list, and then in a few days time I'm going to break it down into moods and acts.  When in doubt I usually just put Richard Thompson on and he gets me in the right attitude.

Here's the current list:

Let Him Fly            3:08  Dixie Chicks                       

Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime            5:52            Beck           

Harder Now That It's Over            4:33            Ryan Adams           

High and Dry            4:13            Radiohead                                               

Keep Your Distance            4:12            Richard Thompson           

Not Pretty Enough            3:20            Kasey Chambers                       

A Sense Of Wonder            7:11            Van Morrison                       

When I Get To The Border            3:28            Richard & Linda Thompson                       

Shelter from the Storm            5:02            Bob Dylan                                   

I Can't Make You Love Me            5:48            Bonnie Raitt           

21 Guns (feat. Green Day & the Cast of American Idiot)

Love Interruption            2:38            Jack White           

I'm Shakin'            3:00            Jack White           

You Can Close Your Eyes            2:30            James Taylor           

One Woman Army            3:56            Kate Earl            

Everything's On Fire            2:02            The Kennedys           

Hungry Heart            3:18            Lucy Wainwright Roche           

She Will Be Loved            4:17            Maroon 5           

Birds            2:33            Neil Young           

Let Her Go            4:13            Passenger           

Trouble            4:02            Ray LaMontagne           

Against The Wind            5:34            Bob Seger           

Tougher Than the Rest            4:34            Bruce Springsteen           

let the river run            3:42            carly simon                                               

I Will Possess Your Heart            8:36            Death Cab for Cutie           

Not Ready To Make Nice            3:58            Dixie Chicks            Taking The Long Way           

Your Protector            4:10            Fleet Foxes           

Follow you down            4:30            Gin Blossoms           

The distance            4:46            Jan and evan or whatever                                               

Take Me Walking In the Rain            5:51            Janis Ian           

Don't Give Up            5:55            Peter Gabriel           

Thin Line Between Love & Hate            3:40            The Pretenders                                   

Wall Of Death            3:42            Richard & Linda Thompson           

Gimme Shelter            4:33            Rolling Stones           

Paint It Black            3:46            Rolling Stones           

For Shame Of Doing Wrong            4:30            Richard & Linda Thompson           

Chasing Cars            4:28            Snow Patrol           

I Bid You Goodnight            4:02            Aaron Neville           

Thin Line Between Love And Hate            4:55            Annie Lennox                                   

Things Have Changed            5:09            Bob Dylan           

Accidentally Like A Martyr            3:44            Warren Zevon           

Silent Running  Mike And The Mechanics            6:14                                                           

Don't Feel Your Touch            4:50            Bruce Cockburn           

Lovers In A Dangerous Time            4:07            Bruce Cockburn           

Hat Full Of Stars            4:28            Cyndi Lauper           

Running Up That Hill              5:00            Kate Bush           

The Loner            3:54            Neil Young                                               

Return To Me            4:18            October Project           

Games Without Frontiers            3:58            Peter Gabriel            Shaking

The Ghost In You            4:18            The Psychedelic Furs           

When The Spell Is Broken [Live]            6:56            Richard Thompson           

Rick Astley - Cry For Help            4:53                                                           

Seven Devils            5:03            Florence + The Machine           

Shake It Out            4:38            Florence + The Machine           

Fix You            4:55            Coldplay           

Arrow            4:21            Cheryl Wheeler           

Silver Springs (Advanced Resolution Stereo Version)            4:46            Fleetwood Mac           

It Makes No Difference (2001 Digital Remaster)            6:32            the band           

These Days            4:45            Jackson Browne           

Here Come Those Tears Again            3:33            Jackson Browne           

What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)            3:42            Kelly Clarkson           

Sober            3:48            Kelly Clarkson           

Radioactive            3:07            Imagine Dragons           

Hard Love            4:37            Claudia Schmidt            Out of the Dark           

Windows Are Rolled Down            3:57            Amos Lee           

Safe & Sound (The Voice Performance)            3:08            Savannah Berry           

Jack White - Love Is Blindness            3:18           

Never Let Me Go            4:31            Florence + The Machine           

The Chain            4:29            Fleetwood Mac           

Need You Now            3:57            Lady Antebellum

Better Be Good To Me (1997 Digital Remaster)            5:12            Tina Turner

Mated            4:00            Utopia            Anthology: 1974-1985            Rock                       

The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore            3:04            The Walker Brothers           

The Whole of the Moon            5:00            The Waterboys           

Even If It Breaks Your Heart            3:42            Will Hoge           

Come Back And Stay            4:24            Paul Young           

Everytime You Go Away            4:29            Paul Young           

Try            4:08            Pink           

Fearless Heart            4:07            Steve Earle           

Bleeding Love            4:23            Leona Lewis           

Turn Your Pretty Name Around            4:49            Mark Olson & Gary Louris           

Whole Wide World            3:55            The Proclaimers          

Shoot Out The Lights            5:24            Richard & Linda Thompson           




Well, I was a bit too hasty.  Apparently you have to enter the promo code stockup30 to get the 30% off, but the good news is that lots of books are on sale as well.

And I just heard that Mary Stewart has died.  I'm almost as upset as when my own mother died (at about the same age).



More Prezzies

First off, Kobo is graciously offering an excellent deal on TO LOVE A DARK LORD, a legendary (if I might say so with no false modesty) historical romance with a very bad boy hero.  It opens with the heroine killing someone, which is always a lively way to start, and the Bad Boy decides, on a whim, to rescue her.  Trouble ensues.

It's available for Kobo in the US, Australia and the UK (and presumably NZ) at 30% off from today, May 15, through the 22, and in Canada from May 20 to 30.  And don't forget, you can download a Kobo app for your computer, which is excellent news for those Kobo only deals (or people who've moved to an iPad or their Kobo has broken.  It means you can still have access to those books.)

Which reminds me.  We're getting around to moving, and I'm getting rid of lots of books.  I'm one of those people who adore reading on a Kindle or iPad, and have even purchased books I've already bought in print, just for the convenience of reading them that way.  (I think WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST by Eloisa James was the first one I did that for).  

But I'm a little worried about technology.  I've uploaded a whole lot of my CD's onto my computer, there's streaming so I don't need to be buying new movies and I can get rid of stuff that hasn't interested me.  And there are all those books I can put on my Kindle and audiobooks (my passion) that go into iTunes.

As I start to pack up my books, which do I donate and which do I keep?  Beloved books I'll keep, like WINDFLOWER, even if it is being reprinted.  And I think I want to keep my Georgette Heyers from the 1960s and '70s, even if I have them all on my Kindle.  Mary Stewart of course, because she hasn't gone to e-publishing yet.  But there are so many others, and if I figure I can always download them, who's to know whether the license has lapsed or not?  But I certainly can't pack all the shit I have -- we'd need twenty moving trucks.

I guess I'm going with instinct.  If I'd always miss a book if it disappeared from publishing then the physical book goes in the box.  Otherwise I'll try to be stern with myself.

Any of you moved since publishing took off?  I'm assuming most of you have too many books -- what in the world do you do with them?

Oh, and update on winners.  I've sent all the American ones out, though I'm going to need email addresses for those who won an e-copy of BARRETT'S HILL.  (Trust me, it's fascinating to read).  The Australian, Canadian and British winners for previous stuff are going next, but I had to fill out a tiresome customs form so it's taking me a little longer.

In the meantime, I need email addresses for:

Katie.Rehead, Sangeeta Joshi, Kanch, and Camilla Von Hollen Swope

i have Angel Parker's email already, but I'm waiting for the others so I can get my publisher to send the book to you.

And that's enough for now.  And if you've moved (or even decluttered) tell me what you did with all the old books and cd's etc.  This isn't a phony question -- I really need help!)